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B.B. King's Death Results in a Legal Mess

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 28, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An era has ended, but the drama continues.

Blues legend, B.B. King, real name Riley B. King, died earlier this month at the age of 89. Clark County, Nevada Coroner listed King's cause of death as a series of small strokes caused by type 2 dementia.

King died peacefully in his sleep at his home on May 14, but some of his family members reportedly suspect foul play.

B.B. King had 15 children and was survived by 11 of them. Some, mainly Karen Williams and Patty King, have been vocal about their dislike for King's long time business manager LaVerne Toney. They have accused Toney of murder, theft, and elder abuse.


According to Karen and Patty, Toney and King's business manager Myron Johnson, poisoned King to hasten his death. Toney, Johnson, and King's attorney Brent Bryon have all denied the allegations as unfounded and untrue.

Reports differ on whether police are currently investigating King's death as a homicide. However, the Clark County Coroner told CNN that initial autopsy results found no evidence of poison, but investigators are still waiting for full forensic results.


Since Toney has power of attorney and managed many of King's affairs, Karen and Patty also accused Toney of stealing large sums of money and jewelry, and fraudulently putting her family members onto King's payroll.

On April 29, Karen petitioned to take power-of-attorney from Toney. However, a family court hearing master denied the petition stating that a police and social services investigation uncovered no evidence of abuse.

Elder Abuse

In another accusation, Karen and Patty claimed that Toney isolated King from his family and friends, refusing to let them see him in the weeks before and after his death.

They also allege that Toney denied King medication. On one occasion, Patty wanted to take King to the hospital because she suspected a heart attack. However, she claims that Toney refused permission. Patty called the police and paramedics decided that King did need medical attention for a mild heart attack.

Elder Abuse

An estimated 10 percent of all senior citizens suffer some kind of elder abuse including physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse and neglect. Signs of elder abuse include bruising, recurring or unexplained injuries, poor hygiene, large financial gifts, unpaid bills, or missing possessions.

Most states have devoted resources to protect elderly citizens and prosecute elder abuse. If you do notice signs of elder abuse contact your state's Adult Protection Agency or consult with an experienced elder law attorney.

As of now, King's family's claims have yet to be substantiated, and no charges have been filed against Toney.

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